Altares, resources, and pan dulce Hartnell College opens to the community for Day of the Dead


Article and photos by Isaac González Díaz

Hartnell College, in partnership with the Hospice Giving Foundation and Hijos del Sol Arts Production, organized the Day of the Dead celebration at the Hartnell College main campus on November 2. The event is organized to remember those who have died and to provide resources to the community.

“Three years ago, I started talking to José Ortiz from Hijos del Sol Arts Project and Hartnell to bring the Día de los Muertos event back to the community in Salinas …” said Erandi Escareño, director of the Hospice Giving Foundation. “I know there was another event going on in Downtown Salinas and once we had the pandemic everything stopped, so after the pandemic I started talking to Hijos del Sol and Hartnell and we came together to do this collaboration, a beautiful collaboration, and this is our third annual organizing and presenting Día de los Muertos.”

The event started at 5 p.m. with an exhibition of altars. In addition, there were diverse stands where organizations focused on health and immigrant rights provided information and resources to the community. Associated Students of Hartnell College distributed hot chocolate, pan de muerto and tamales to participants.

“My favorite part is connecting with people I never knew before, my ancestors who I never got to meet, I think it is really cool that we get to make an ‘ofrenda’ and try to connect with my great-grandparents who I never met in this life, but we still connect with them even that they are gone,” said Fe Aguilar, producer of Radio Bilingüe.

“The Day of the Day is significant for us because we celebrate death and is a time for us to remember our loved ones,” said Lizbeth Oros-Ortiz, a Hartnell College student and member of Associated Students.

About 6 p.m., participants walked in a procession around the main campus holding up electric candles as they sang mariachi songs.

“The most beautiful thing about the Day of the Day is the visual (aspect). As a painter, I am a person that pays attention to what is attractive,” said José Ortiz, founder of Hijos del Sol Arts Project. “I like people to delight in what they see. That is part of, and also the coming together of people who may have different beliefs, but all of a sudden, in this kind of event, we are all unified to say goodbye to a loved one.”

Speeches followed the procession, including one by Mexican Consul Alejandra Bologna and Salinas City Council members. They congratulated organizers and participants. Adela Castillo and José Morán from Noche Bohema read three traditional “calaveras,” poems that honor the living as if they were dead.

“Hartnell College is open to the public, not just to come and study and get a degree and to pursue educational aspirations, we are also here for the community to come and enjoy special events like the one we are having today,” said Augustine Nevarez, Hartnell College director of student affairs. “Dia de los Muertos is something that is very relevant to the community that we have here in the Salinas Valley, and so we are happy to open our doors to the community to come and be part of this special event.”

The audience also enjoyed two musical numbers from folklórico groups. The first one was the traditional old men dance by los Lupeños de San José. Faldas y Flores: Folklore Mexicano also performed a variety of dances from diverse parts of Mexico. Near the end of the event, another mariachi music number by Mariachi Hermanos Muratalla took place. At 8 p.m., the event closed with a sendoff by the organizers, thanking the people for assisting.

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Isaac González Díaz

About Isaac González Díaz

Isaac Alberto González Díaz graduated in 2023 from North Salinas High School and is now attending Hartnell College. He plans to transfer to a four-year university to pursue a degree in journalism. He enjoys photography, building Legos, listening to music, reading, and taking walks around his neighborhood.